Centre for Continuing Education

Documentary Course: Introduction to Producing and Directing

Film. Focus on cinema.

Appreciate and learn about film the smart way with Film courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

Before making a great documentary, journalists and filmmakers need to grasp the basics. Documentary producing and directing by filmmakers requires a nuanced sense of their rights and obligations. How best to get the most out of pre-production and shoot in order to maximise the creative outcomes for a film.

Participants in this documentary course – an introduction to producing and directing – will develop professional standards whilst making their own documentary. Each participant will produce and direct their own documentary film (5 minutes in length) and screen it at the end of the 6-week program. They will also learn how to master their production equipment for best results, including cameras, microphones and editing software. The knowledge and skills gained from this program can be adopted to corporate video production.


Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • produce their own quality documentary
  • prepare for and shoot a documentary interview
  • shoot B roll
  • shoot observational footage
  • source Documentary talent
  • edit digital video into a visual story
  • produce to completion a five minute micro documentary.



  • Documentary history and appreciation


  • Sourcing talent
  • Finding a story
  • Finding the audience
  • Research
  • Ethnographic study principals
  • Modes of documentary
  • Planning documentary shoot days


  • Interview technique
  • Camera operation for documentary
  • Creating engaging B Roll
  • Sound recording
  • Basic lighting


  • Editing theory
  • Editing process for documentary
  • Exhibition

Knowledge outcomes

  • Documentary producing ethics and principals
  • Documentary production styles and techniques
  • Interview technique and strategy
  • Documentary production process management
  • Sourcing talent and story considerations.

Skill outcomes

  • Camera operation
  • Sound recording
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Logistics of documentary film production
  • Video editing process
  • Mastering of videos for online and cinema delivery

Delivery Style

Delivered in small consultative group sessions over a six week period. These sessions include presentations, demonstrations, discussions and the screenings of documentary films. Importantly, this program is consultative and participants will receive feedback each week on the progress of their documentary film. Films will be produced outside of class time.

Before the course

Participants will not need to purchase equipment before the commencement of this course. Advice and consultation will be given in the first session for those who are unsure of what equipment is needed. As a guide, and for best results, it will be recommended that the participants have access to the following equipment:

  • camera or DSLR with video capability
  • lapel microphone
  • tripod
  • laptop computer (both Apple and PC platforms are suitable)
  • adobe Premiere Pro software for video editing (or similar).

Participants may also wish to use their smartphone as a substitute to a camera or DSLR; this is fine and will enable production.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • It was fun learning and interacting with both the class and teacher. The teacher was very knowledgeable and interesting, and I was intrigued with the way the teacher presented the subject. I feel I’ve grown and look forward to continuing my education.

  • I found this presenter to be a very good teacher who is passionate about what is taught and was very formative – explaining and delivering the course in a well structured, productive, fun and enjoyable class. I always wanted to learn about film and I am so glad that you ran this course, as a friend and I travelled a distance from the western suburbs and the central coast to attend this course. Thank you.

Documentary Course: Introduction to Producing and Directing

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What others say.

  • The course was great and the teacher terrific - taught from a wealth of knowledge and practical experience. I really enjoyed it.